1. Advisor preference!
Let’s jump right in, shall we? After more than two years of pandemic restrictions, many Pharma leaders are itching to meet with their key opinion leaders (KOLs) face-to-face again, believing that’s what most KOLs want. It may come as a surprise that this is not always the case. Based on over a decade of feedback from thousands of healthcare provider (HCP) advisors, across all therapeutic areas, we are consistently hearing that asynchronous virtual touchpoints (AVTs) on the Impetus InSite Platform® are the #1 preferred way of engaging with Big Pharma.
Common feedback includes that asynchronous engagement is very respectful of their time and that they enjoy reviewing materials and comments on their own time, as well as asking questions and collaborating with their colleagues in a secure and safe space. This is not to say that there is no place for hybrid meetings; however, they should not be the only way of engaging your advisors.
2. Optimize insight-gathering
Real-time meetings are great for a lot of things, including for hosting interactive workshops and reaching consensus. However, they are not optimized for high-quality insight-gathering. In particular, not everyone can speak at once; there are usually 2–3 individuals who drive and dominate the discussions. Junior or less verbose KOLs often do not get the same opportunity to participate, leading to strategic blindspots and missed opportunities.
On the other hand, adding AVTs between real-time meetings multiplies the participant time spent on each question and allows everyone to get an equal say, generating exponentially higher quantities of insights. AVTs also increase the quality of insights as advisors can provide more well-thought-out and unbiased responses on their own time. Blinded questions can be added to help junior colleagues feel more comfortable stating their true opinions.
3. AVTs promote diversity & inclusion
A major downside of real-time meetings, whether in-person or virtual, is that scheduling conflicts, flight delays, time zone differences, or personal obligations can result in some people missing out. The participants also tend to be more homogenous, with little diversity in geography, language, and functional or therapeutic expertise. In these meetings, it is typical to see mainly senior HCPs or top KOLs, with little room for up-and-coming KOLs and digital opinion leaders (DOLs). In addition, only people who fluently speak the same language can fully participate.
AVTs promote diversity and inclusion by catering to participants in multiple time zones and overcoming potential language barriers. They also allow the inclusion of individuals who live in remote communities or who have other professional and personal obligations and normally cannot attend live meetings. Further, AVTs are ideal for engaging a mix of junior/senior KOLs or different groups of stakeholders in the same or parallel projects.
4. High customizability
Unlike traditional face-to-face meetings, which typically follow a one-format-fits-all approach, AVTs are customizable for all preferences. Hosting these “over-time, anytime” meetings on a safe and secure, highly comprehensive platform with a large portfolio of life science-specific tools further improves the user experience.
5. Convenience & flexibility
As mentioned, flight delays, time zone differences, or personal and professional obligations can result in some people being unable to attend the in-person meeting. However, even web meetings are sometimes difficult to fit in amidst busy work schedules. On the other hand, AVTs are both highly convenient and flexible. They are typically completed over a 1–3-week period. Participants can complete the activity in one or multiple sittings. As needed, they can come back to add comments or edit their responses at a later time. This format is perfect for people with busy clinics, young families, and caregiver responsibilities, as well as for those who simply prefer to give input on their own time.
6. Real-time meeting preparation
AVTs will (and should) never replace hybrid and web meetings. They are, however, extremely useful for preparing advisors and speakers for the real-time meeting and optimizing the meeting agenda. Among many other things, asynchronous pre-work allows review of slides and materials in advance, resulting in more thoughtful, carefully crafted responses. This also gives participants the opportunity to ask clarifying questions ahead of time. Further, it reduces the time spent on didactic presentations and frees up more time for interactive workshops, reaching consensus, and being social (thereby promoting relationship-building!)
Other benefits of adding a pre-meeting AVT include that this primes participants to think about your objectives and key questions ahead of time, all while giving you a better understanding of their positions. Finally, these touchpoints are useful for gathering ideas, preferences, and insights from the participants that may inform the real-time meeting focus and agenda.
7. Debrief and follow up after real-time meetings
One downside of real-time meetings is that many questions remain unanswered. Alternatively, they may be addressed via email to specific advisors only. Typically, there are no progress updates or real-time feedback until the following meeting; this might not be held for another 6–12 months, if at all. This approach makes it difficult for participants to become true partners and advocates for your brand or initiative.
Adding a post-meeting AVT allows the participants to debrief while the information is still fresh in their minds. It also offers an effective way to follow up on unanswered questions so that the whole group benefits. This approach enables continued conversations and progress updates on initiatives spurred from the real-time meeting, and
provide an opportunity to show that you listened to your advisors, making them feel like true partners. As a result, adding a post-meeting asynchronous touchpoint helps keep your brand “top of mind” and creates deeper, more authentic relationships with your KOLs.
8. Reduced environmental footprint
Compared to 100% in-person or hybrid meetings, the environmental footprint of virtual touchpoints is magnitudes lower. This is especially true for larger meetings or those covering a large geographical area. In addition to emissions from flights and ground transportation, pre-meeting AVTs allow you to host pre-reading materials on the online portal, eliminating the need to print materials. Choosing to work with an environmentally conscious Green Business Bureau platinum-certified vendor can help further lower the impact on the environment, especially if they are also working on innovative ways to offset the emissions associated with hosting the online portal.
9. AVTs shorten timelines
Adding AVTs between real-time meetings shortens the time to project completion by optimizing the process and increasing the speed to insight-gathering!
10. Cost- and time-savings
Last but not least, asynchronous activities save costs and resources in a variety of ways. By adding pre-meeting AVTs, the duration of the real-time meeting can be shortened by multiple hours. When it comes to hybrid and in-person meetings, with flight, gasoline, and food prices skyrocketing lately, these are becoming more expensive and may not be the best “bang for your buck” anymore (that is, if your advisors and team members can even make it to the meeting on time amidst record flight cancellations and delays). On the other hand, Impetus Digital’s virtual meetings are inflation-neutral, ensuring that you are able to continuously capture crucial insights from healthcare providers, payers, and patients on the ever-changing market conditions.
About Impetus Digital
Impetus Digital partners with life science organizations to virtualize their in-person meetings and events through our best-in-class InSite Touchpoints™ and InSite Events™ offerings, delivered with white-glove service and 360° coverage and care. Leveraging our large portfolio of cutting-edge online collaboration tools, clients can seamlessly gather insights from, and collaborate with, internal and external stakeholders. To find out more about Impetus Digital, visit our website, follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, or book a demo at meetwithimpetus.com